Carlos Sainz should be “on the list” for Mercedes and Aston Martin, the Sky Sports pundits insist.
Sainz will lose his Ferrari seat to Lewis Hamilton next year - as the victim of F1’s stunning driver move.
He has long been linked to Audi who will complete their entry into F1 for 2026 but he could become a target for other rival teams too.
“I don’t believe, although it may not feel it at the moment, that this is a bad thing for Sainz,” Natalie Pinkham said on the Sky F1 show.
“Ultimately he will go to Audi and shape that team around him.
“This could be the best thing for him. What he does in the interim year will be interesting.
“I think this is worse news for Charles Leclerc.
“This upsets the applecart for him. He was starting to bed in.
“He was pally with Vasseur and now Hamilton is even pallier!”
Karun Chandhok disagreed: “Yes, but this isn’t a sport about making friends.
“Ultimately Carlos has been booted out of one of the top three cars on the grid. A car that gave him victory at the Singapore Grand Prix.
“That’s bad news.
“Audi? They are not going to arrive and be at the front of the grid. It’s years away.
“Everyone is connecting him to Audi because of the connection with his dad.
“The reality is, I can see him going to Aston Martin. I can see him on the phone to Toto.
“He wants to be winning now, he’s in his 30s, he can’t wait for years for Audi to get there.”
The link between Sainz and Audi comes largely through his father.
Carlos Sainz Senior recently won the Dakar Rally, aged 61, driving for Audi.
“It’s brilliant what Carlos Senior has done, King Carlos the rally driver,” Damon Hill said.
“An inspiration for Junior as well.
“Definitely they will get together to see what the strongest way forward is.
“Can he go to Mercedes? Red Bull?”
Pinkham replied: “That makes sense.”
Martin Brundle added: “I’m a big fan of his, Carlos Jr.
“I think he’s got the tenacity of his dad.
“I don’t think he’s got the speed of Leclerc, but he’s always there at the end of a grand prix.
“He’s very smart. The way he won in Singapore was outstanding.
“He’d be a great catch for Aston Martin or for Mercedes. He’s got to be on their list.
“So many other drivers have long-term deals and have nailed their futures down.
“He will be crestfallen to lose that Ferrari drive.”
The good news is that some high-profile vacancies are set to arise.
Mercedes must obviously replace Hamilton. And Sergio Perez remains under pressure to keep hold of his Red Bull seat.
Fernanndo Alonso’s expiring contract at Aston Martin means he could be on the market, possibly creating an opening at his current team.